Thursday, October 29, 2015

Does Preventive Awareness Education Work for Drugs and Suicide?

I feel more suicidal . . . after treatment!

Psychotherapists have played an influential role in the public schools over the last decade. They run divorce adjustment groups, talk to kids about their feelings, and run a variety of prevention oriented programs.

Research on this site already strongly questions the efficacy of traditional drug prevention programs that simply make kids and adults ""aware" of the drug problem. (Click here for information about the failure of the schools' DARE program). Other research now seriously questions the effectiveness of Teen Suicide Prevention Programs (TSPP). In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that "there was little evidence that the programs reduced suicides and suicide attempts."

Importantly, the programs reviewed--like their DARE counterparts--were "intended to raise awareness of teenage suicides by describing the warning signs to young people at risk." 

Teenagers actually participating in the study experienced two main effects:
(1)   they were less likely to recommend the program to peers; and
(2)   they believed that the programs made kids more likely to kill themselves.

One is left to wonder why programs based on fear and the identification of pathology continue to be used when other, more effective modes of intervention exists--namely relational skill building. 

Teaching kids to make decisions and think maturely is the most effective way to prevent drug abuse. 

Having a personal discussion with kids without emotional preaching or pleading can be preventive. 

Going to church and developing solid, Christian relationships can be helpful. 

Treating kids like adults can help. 

Kids talking to other kids is best. 

Journal of the American Medical Association (December 26, 1990)

I want to help stop drug use, self harming behavior, depression, anxiety, bullying, and all other harmful behavior. However, many "Education Programs" designed to  prevent problems focus on the wrong people with the wrong approach. 

If you want to know more about what works, see our web page.

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